Sorting out the recycling - ten-year-old Paige Flockhart from new Feniton

Cabinet recognise recycling trials success and wish to see how new service can be considered for rest of district

Communities involved in East Devon’s pioneering recycling trials have made a spectacular effort to recycle almost 60% of their waste every week.

Latest figures from the first three months of the trials which started last September, show that the 1,367 recycling trial households in Exmouth (The Colony) and new Feniton have collectively thrown away almost 18 tonnes less rubbish – equivalent to almost two double decker buses!

Residents in the two areas are trialling a new scheme where they can now collect cardboard and mixed plastics, along with their usual extensive number of other recyclables including glass, tins and cans, paper, plastic bottles, textiles and food waste. The recycling is being collected weekly at the kerbside by the council’s contractors.

As the residents have been able to recycle so much more, they have been throwing away far less waste so their grey wheeled bins are being collected every three weeks instead of every two weeks. Only a handful of other councils across the country have introduced similar recycling and waste schemes.

News about the success of the trials has been welcomed by East Devon District Council’s Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny Committees, who have each recommended that the trial service is considered for the council’s new recycling and waste contract which is due for renewal later this year.

Cllr Susie Bond, who represents the Feniton ward where recycling in the trial area increased from 41% to 58% in the first twelve weeks, told councillors:

The trials have gone spectacularly well in my ward. New Feniton residents have been so enthusiastic and must take a great deal of credit for embracing the changes with such gusto.

The trials have been an amazing piece of work by East Devon officers too and key to the success of the trials has been the way the council engaged with the residents in the trial areas before the changes were introduced. I know some of our residents have changed their shopping habits as the trials have made them so much more aware of the merits of recycling.

The only complaints I’ve had are from people on the outskirts of the village who are not included in the trial and want to know why they’ve been left out!

Cllr William Nash, who represents Exmouth Town ward, which includes The Colony, added:

The trials have been well thought out by officers and well received by residents.

Recycling in The Colony has increased from 37% to 55%. The amount of waste collected for disposal from the two areas has reduced by 19% from 7.9 tonnes per week before the trials began, to 6.4 tonnes per week.

The council’s recycling team has been carefully monitoring the trials, as well as talking to residents and advising them on how they can reduce their waste and recycle more. Jointly, householders in the trial areas have, in the first three months of the trial, filled:

  • 2,664 large recycling bags of cardboard weighing 11,990kg
  • 6,600 large recycling bags of plastics, weighing 6,600kg and
  • 4,926 large food waste caddies weighing 32,472kg.

Cllr Iain Chubb, the council’s portfolio holder for the Environment, said:

Our residents have always shown great support for anything we do to encourage more recycling, but we have been overwhelmed by the efforts made by householders in these two trial areas. It really has been heartening to see the residents embracing these changes with such enthusiasm and collecting so much more recycling.

East Devon is leading the way by trialling an innovative scheme such as this, and we know that other council’s across the South West are looking very closely at what we are doing as they consider introducing a similar scheme.

Prior to the trials, the council undertook a wide-ranging publicity campaign to explain and help residents with the changes - holding recycling road shows, sending letters and leaflets giving information on the new collections and promoting the trial comprehensively through the local press and social media.

Following a questionnaire to all participating households in November last year, residents are asking the council to consider providing water tight containers for their recycling rather than the 70-litre reusable sack given to each household before the trials began.

They have also asked for containers that can help them separate their recycling. The overwhelming message from the residents was that they wanted the trials to continue.

Cllr Chubb added:

It’s great news that those who are taking part, are happy for it to carry on. We are listening to what residents are telling us and we will be making decisions on any future roll-out of the service to the rest of the district soon.

Feedback and information from the trials is assisting the council in preparing for the appointment of a recycling and waste contractor this year. The trials were also introduced in response to residents’ surveys, frequently asking the council for opportunities to recycle more.

For residents who need assistance with the trials, the council’s recycling team can be contacted on 01395 571515 or email csc@eastdevon.gov.uk You can follow East Devon District Council on social media through twitter @eastdevon or facebook /eastdevon.

The council also has a really useful smart phone app which will send reminders about recycling and waste collection days tailored to your own address. The East Devon mobile app is free and is available to download for iphone users from the Apple App Store and for Android smart phone users from the Google Play Store.